Necessito vs.

Paras, Nature of responsibility; definition FACTS:  Severina Garces and her one-year old son, Precillano Necesito, carrying vegetables, boarded passenger auto truck or bus No. 199 of the Philippine Rabbit Bus Lines.  The bus entered a wooden bridge, but the front wheels swerved to the right; the driver lost control, and after wrecking the bridge's wooden rails, the truck fell on its right side into a creek where the water was breast deep.  Severina Garces, was drowned; Necesito, was injured, suffering abrasions and a fracture of the left femur. The money, wrist watch and cargo of vegetables were lost.  Two actions for damages having been filed in the CFI against the Philippine Rabbit. Philippine Rabbit pleaded that the accident was due to "engine or mechanical trouble" independent or beyond the control of Phil. Rabbit or of the driver Bandonell.  CFI found that the bus was proceeding slowly due to the bad condition of the road; that the accident was caused by the fracture of the right steering knuckle, which was defective in that its center or core, a condition that could not be known or ascertained by the carrier despite the fact that regular thirty-day inspections.  CFI held that the accident was exclusively due to fortuitous event, dismissed both actions. ISSUE: Whether or not the carrier is liable for the manufacturing defect of the steering knuckle RULING:  Yes. Under the new Civil Code, the rule on the liability of carriers for defects of equipment is thus expressed: "The preponderance of authority is in favor of the doctrine that a passenger is entitled to recover damages from a carrier for an injury resulting from a defect in an appliance purchased from a manufacturer, whenever it appears that the defect would have been discovered by the carrier if it had exercised the degree of care which under the circumstances was incumbent upon it, with regard to inspection and application of the necessary tests.  The rationale of the carrier's liability is the fact that the passenger has neither choice nor control over the carrier in the selection and use of the equipment and appliances in use by the carrier. Having no privity whatever with the manufacturer or vendor of the defective equipment, the passenger has no remedy against him, while the carrier usually has.  The periodical visual inspection of the steering knuckle as practiced by the carrier's agents did not measure up to the required legal standard of "utmost diligence of very cautious persons" — "as far as human care and foresight can provide", and therefore that the knuckle's failure cannot be considered a fortuitous event that exempts the carrier from responsibility.  As to the damages suffered by the plaintiffs, no allowance may be made for moral damages, since under Article 2220 of the new Civil Code, in case of suits for breach of contract, moral damages are recoverable only where the defendant acted fraudulently or in bad faith, and there is none in the case before us.  As to exemplary damages, the carrier has not acted in a "wanton, fraudulent, reckless, oppressive or malevolent manner" to warrant their award.

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